Washington DC - July 1, 2008 - The National Association of REALTORS(R) reported today that the proposed $8000 homebuyer tax credit is stalled in the Senate as a few Senators exercised their prerogatives under the Senate rules to shut down action.
When the Senate voted on its motion to proceed to debate on the housing bill (HR 3221), that motion was agreed to on a vote of 83 - 9, indicating the overwhelming bipartisan support for the entire housing package. Despite that high level of support, one Senator has held up debate by insisting that the Senate include extensions of a series of energy tax credits. Another Senator has delayed the process by refusing to waive some minor, but time-consuming, procedural requirements.
These hurdles arise under the Senate rules. Once the Senate has agreed to proceed with debate (as above with the 83-9 vote), the next steps require the Majority Leader to set a schedule for offering amendments and duration of debate. This schedule must be adopted by what is called "unanimous consent." If even one Senator objects to the unanimous consent motion, then debate cannot proceed until his/her objection is resolved. The Senate was unable to resolve the objections of two Senators, and so adjourned for the Fourth of July break without moving to final passage on the housing bill.
There is no significant controversy about any of the provisions of the bill or the tax pay-fors, but the process has still been delayed. There will be no further action on the housing package until July 8, at the earliest.
NAR is reaching out to the Senators who have created the obstacles, and will continue to encourage them to allow the housing bill to proceed to a final vote and on to the President.
As currently drafted, the homebuyer tax credit would be available for any qualified purchase between April 8, 2008 and April 1, 2009. The current legislative delays have led NAR to begin working with the tax-writing committees to extend the credit's availability to a later date in 2009.
Click here to view a side by side chart comparing the House and Senate tax provisions